After a two-year hiatus, the Mother’s Day Half Marathon will return in person to Whately on Sunday.
Labeled “The Comeback Year” by race director Sue Monahan, the excitement for the race is growing day by day. The race has still been held for the past two years, but was held virtually due to COVID-19.
More than 400 competitors have already registered for the 12th edition of the race on Sunday, with many more expected after race day registrations.
“People are so excited to find him in person,” Monahan said. “I have someone who is injured and couldn’t race, but they said they will come back next year. Others who can’t run volunteer and still want to get involved. There is such a good atmosphere with this race. You can’t find a race with that kind of vibe. I don’t know what it is, but everyone is always so friendly and happy to be there.
The last time the race was held in 2019, 534 runners participated – a record total. With the race shifting to a virtual format over the past two years, the numbers have dropped but entries have risen again with the return to an in-person event.
Although the numbers have dwindled, the fundraising effort has not changed in the past two years, which Monahan is proud of.
“It wasn’t the same virtually,” Monahan said. “We had very good sponsors who were still supporting us virtually. People still fundraised and ran it virtually, it was still pretty successful. We raised a lot of money. This year people are knocking it out of the park with donations. The sponsors are happy to be back and everyone is fundraising like crazy.
The run raises money for Cancer Connection, whose website says its mission is “to provide a safe haven where people with cancer and their loved ones can learn to navigate the complicated journey of cancer through one-on-one counseling, education, peer support, therapy integration and creative programs to strengthen body and mind.
“All the money stays local,” Monahan said. “They get all the money. The majority of what we get for running the race comes from donations, unlike many races. We have so many people helping out to make sure all the money goes to the charity.
If you ran the race before COVID, it will be exactly the same on Sunday. The half marathon route has not changed, package pickup is still at 6 a.m. at Yankee Candle Manufacturing Alley in Whately, nine-mile walkers and runners will depart at 7:30 a.m. before runners depart of the half marathon. departure at 8am
The early start time gives participants and spectators plenty of time to take their mom to lunch afterwards if they wish.
“We just got back into it,” Monahan said. “The only new challenge on the course was that the bridge at Whately was one way, but we have just added a few more volunteers to direct traffic there. Otherwise we have kept everything else the same.
The race still offers a 5K option, but it will be done virtually as the course is not set up for a 5K course. A new change this year is the addition of a nine-mile stint, something Monahan hopes to keep.
“We had to offer the 5K virtually because I can’t run a 5K on our course,” Monahan said. “We are testing the waters with the nine-mile relay. These will be teams of three people with each [team member] running what’s close to a 5K. We added it late and we will test it and see how it goes. It will be a good experiment to see if we want to keep this option in the future.
Online registration closed on Friday, but the race continues to take entries on Sunday before kickoff. The goal was to raise $100,000 and by Tuesday they were close to hitting the $85,000 mark.
Fundraising will continue after the race, with donations being accepted at www.racewmass.com.